The "Fun Flag"

The History of a Treasured Banner

By Chris Wagner

As best as I remember, and I've reached the point where I can claim diminishing memory because of advancing years if I get any points "confused", the Fun Flag first appeared at the 1985 World Meet in Yugoslavia (back when it was a "pink" communist single-state that produced such luxury items as the "Yugo") with the Canadian Delegation.

Anyway, the Canadian Delegation was notorious for its fun-loving antics; such things as getting obnoxiously drunk on the dinner-boat cruise and then singing "God Bless America" at the top of their lungs to shift blame, and planting "innocently incriminating" evidence in other delegations baggage while the Yugo Secret Police were clandestinely going through everyone's hotel rooms looking for the official FAI flag that had mysteriously disappeared shortly after everyone was warned not to touch it...

Have I mentioned yet how much it sucks to watch the World Meet live over the internet in lieu of being there?

But I digress. At some point at the close of the '85 World Meet, the Canadians presented the Fun Flag to the team they felt best represented it: The U.S. 4-way team "Air Bears" and its Team Captain, Tommy Piras. From this point on, it was traditional for the team possessing the Fun Flag to pass it on to another team at some opportune time. If fuzzy memory serves me, Tommy presented it the Golden Knights 8-way at the 1986 U.S. Nationals in Muskogee, after which we carried it to the '86 French Nationals in Lapalisse, the '86 British Army Nationals in Neatheraven, the '86 Australian Army Nationals in Tagooliwa, a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific called Kwajelien, and the '87 US Nationals in Muskogee. In 1987 the Knights passed it on to another team - I think the French 4-way "TAG-Heuer", at the World Meet in Foz de Iguacu, Brazil. In 1988 it was passed back to the Knights at the 1988 World Cup in Vichy (where the World Meets of S&A and CF were also being conducted simultaneously). Sometime shortly thereafter I was engaged in a vodka-drinking contest with Alexander, Team Captain of "Blue Lightning", the Soviet 8-way team (yup, the same Alexander who's now coaching the Russian 8-way). After about 10 repetitions of: 1) drink large shot of vodka (or lighter fluid, I'm not sure), 2) slam down glass upside-down, 3) yell "HAH" at top of lungs while keeping the vomit reflex down, and 4) doing 20 push-ups, we somehow managed to figure out that we were stupid and I somehow managed to stagger the half klick back to the dorm where I called Mary while I was drunk for the one and only time, and remembered very little until boarding the plane for home the next day.

But I digress again. Have I mentioned yet how much it sucks to watch the World Meet live over the internet in lieu of being there? Anyway, at the 1989 World Meet in Ampuriabrava, Spain, several of us were lounging around the U.S.A. tent when we spotted a group of suspicious-looking skydivers walking our way, carrying something and wearing sheep-eating grins. As they got closer we recognized it was the Norwegian delegation (who always naturally look suspicious, but less so than the Canadians), and that they were carrying the Fun Flag. It seems that they had "borrowed" it at Vichy the previous year, and were now returning it, concerned that we had been worrying ourselves to death trying to find it. "Didn't we get presented the Fun Flag last year?" a fellow GK says; "Yeh, we did!" says another; and "So what are they doing with it?" says a third, followed by "No wonder I hadn't seen it all year!". The joke was on both our teams - we never even realized that it had been missing for an entire year!

Retrospect: World Meet 1989. Al Gore had just invented the internet just a few years previously, but there was no such thing as the World Wide Web. The Berlin Wall was still standing, East and West divided, and cracks were appearing in the political barriers between the two. The Soviet Team still traveled with "Chaperones," couldn't travel alone and had to make curfew (though I did drag Alexander downtown for a drink one night). Making overseas calls from a hotel telephone was virtually impossible (don't even think about getting an incoming call), and calls from official phone booths cost about the same as a jump ticket. When my daughter was born during official practice, the only way they could pass me the news was through the DZ fax machine. There was no OmniSkore, though its direct ancestor existed in DiveDraw, which the GK used for producing training rounds. Today, I can check the OmniSkore TIDBITS for up-to-date news, weather and sports; and even get the scores before they are officially posted, and call anywhere anytime dirt cheap on a cell phone.

I don't recall who we then passed it on to at the end of the '89 World Meet, we may have "officially" passed it on to Norway. I think we (the Knights) received it again at the 1990 European Cup in Gap, because I know we took it with us to the 1991 World Meet in Lucenec, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia): We flew it proudly beneath the U.S. flag on a pole lashed to the U.S.A. delegation trailer (I have a photo of it there). At this time it had no patches or other markings on it - it was still solid yellow with black letters, though a little frayed on the ends. It did have one "attachment": a white and red bikini-top flown in honor of the Canadian Judge's husband, who had just recently died in a skydiving accident (I am personally horrified with myself for not remembering their names).

I don't recall who or how we then passed it on to at the end of the '91 World Meet. Later, when I was able to visit the 1993 World Meet and the 2000 World Cup in Eloy, I made it a point to see if the Fun Flag was still being passed along and was happy to see that it was. It is probably long overdue for a history of the Fun Flag to be compiled and passed on along with the flag; I for one would be willing to donate a leather bound book for it's history to be preserved in and to be shared with future generations. While it is not the Ottley Sword in representing the Champions of RW/FS, it does represent the Champions of why we started skydiving in the first place.

Tim Wagner continues:

I spoke with Neal Houston and Jack Jefferies about the flag yesterday (27 June) and gathered a few more details. The flag was made by Pat "Splat" Floyd of the Canadian 8-way team in 1985 as a motivational tool for his attitude-compromised team. The flag found its way into the hands of Tom Piras of the "Air Bears" for the 1985 World Meet, where it began its adventure as detailed by Chris above.

Closeup of later Flag modifications.Continuing the flag's travails, the flag wound up back in the hands of Tommy Piras after the 1991 World Meet. Then, not long before he died in 1992, Tommy gave the flag (and its proud story, with instructions) to Jack Jefferies, who kept until the World Meet at Eloy in 1993, where Neal Houston stole the flag while the US entourage was walking to the airplane. The flag made its home in Canada at least long enough for the Canadian 8-way team logo to be sewn on it. Then, as the 1995 World Meet was approaching, the flag somehow made its way to the US team via Molly Mercer (who should pitch in her two cents here eventually). The flag remained with the Golden Knights at least long enough to get a GK patch sewn on. The flag then passed through the hands of Tom Falzone and back to Neal Houston, who gave it to Airspeed for the World Meet in Australia 1999. The flag has remained with the Arizona team ever since.

I'm sure there are many missing and/or inaccuracies to this story of the flag, and we'll update this page as the holes get filled in. Send your two bits to

The Aussies Report:

G'day Omni-masters, 

The Aussie 4-way FS team had the flag (whilst Tom Piras was coaching in Australia) for the period Oct 1988 until about March 1989 (leading up to Ampuriabrava 98 [89] world meet). So it proudly flew at Corowa on and off for 6 months. As I recall, the flag stood for Funding Under Negotiation - skydiver always want more dollars for there next jump don't they? Closer inspection will reveal many Aussie beer stains on this most cherished icon.

Cheers, Tim Stevens.

Thanks, Tim!

And Molly Mercer chimes in:

1997 1st WAG Turkey, Rd 10, Airspeed under canopy Doug Forth and myself
headed out into the field to do the mass mad frenzied congrats dance when it
dawned on me so was everyone else from the US I thought to
myself ...self it's time to put the FUN back in with the help of my tough trusty team mate we saddled up to the Team USA tent and had our way with the twine on the tent pole. After a quick tactual diversion with one of the gals still there we divided and conquered. This was all done with the rules in tack. Competition on, Flag at site and US delegates on the ground. Lets just say Laidlaw was a little surprised when he walked into the US tent to congratulate Airspeed and was almost knocked out but when he realized what had happened, the smile was big. I then under Lock and Key managed to get th flag home to Vancouver.
( Joester should remember why...catcha haha) During the awards ceremony of the 1999 Nationals in Sebastian, Vertical 8 passed the Fun Flag to Airspeed to take to the next world meet.... The reason being.. Fun finds Fun ... always has always will! Go Big!
Mollie Mercer

And the saga continues as the Fun Flag is stolen by the Canadians at the awards ceremony:

We did end up with it! After our failed raid they stole our Canadian flag so we took their airblade and held it for ransom. I stole the fun flag out of Jack Jeffries hand while he stood on the podium. They were planning to give it to the Russians. I was only walking behind the stage for a better photo angle when I saw the flag in his hand and decided that it was now or never! 
- Billy Porter

Pål Bergan chimes in (filling in and correcting details from 1989) :

if i may, i could add, or even correct some of the information here (as best remembered...)

in vichy [1988], several countries were looking at the fun flag as a cool reminder of a cool meet. it was even attempted "borrowed" from the us team once during the competition. this resulted in the team placing a guard by the flag for the remainder of the competition, always one present at the tent as long as the flag was up. they may have forgot this, but it seemed obvious to many others.

after a delicate maneuver, if correctly recalled including a blonde with big tits, the flag suddenly disappeared from the pole. no doubt that there was fuss and confusion created among the us team that it had disappeared. naturally, no-one that had anything to do with this dared to get close to the us jumpers, in fear of the knight showing their secret tricks on unprepared northerners.

the next year [1989], correctly, it was returned to the knights. but the situation was a little different than above described: on the opening ceremony of the world championship all nations jumped into the stadium with their national flags. it was a beautiful sight, but one of flags was very hard to determine the nationality of, but closer to landing in front of the us team tent it became obvious, where the fun flag was returned in a gentleman like manner.

if it is so that the knights had forgotten this, it comes as a surprise to us and the few knowing spectators lounging discretely by the us tent. at least it seemed to us that the knights were happy for the return, but of course we might have been totally confused and misunderstood the entire situation being excited and all after jumping from 3000 feet.

but, even with harsh winters, the norwegians were not completely snowed in between these meets, and maybe remember this in another light, as it was considered quite a challenging feat at the time, and a better story at the end.

thanks for the opportunity
humbly, on behalf of the norwegian national team 1988/1999
pål bergan